Recovery is an ongoing process.

major depression, ptsd, rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, self-harm, stigma, suicidal ideation, three hopeful thoughts

It’s been a week since my last slip-up.

Last Wednesday, due to a combination of preexisting emotional rawness and the news that a relative had been saying some less-than-complimentary things about me, I had a breakdown and ended up self-injuring. D. caught me before I was able to do too much damage, but it was a reminder to both of us that no matter how “okay” I seem, this is going to be a tenuous, ongoing process. There will be setbacks. It is going to be a struggle for a very long time. Just as a recovering alcoholic fights cravings, I’m going to have to fight against the urge to harm myself. I refuse to beat myself up over setbacks, however, because it requires an immense amount of strength to get better and stay well, keep my thoughts bright and positive and healthy. Some days, I simply do not have the strength, and that’s okay. I’m human.

Please excuse the fact that I have my legs splayed like a hussy in the background. 😛

On Friday, one of my very best friends from college came into town to help us move. Before we all headed to bed, he presented me with a lovely gift: a rubber band he’d decorated with his signature art style. I honestly didn’t know what to say—I was deeply touched by the gesture and really appreciated it. It’s a bit large, but I can wear it up near my elbow. (Snapping there hurts less and causes smaller welts, anyway.)

A close-up of the design.

I’m seeing my new psychiatrist for my second evaluation this afternoon, so I’ll put up a longer post about that later. But I wanted to acknowledge the overwhelming kindness of my friends and family and say that I am incredibly grateful for the people in my life who influence me in positive, life-affirming ways.

Advertisements

It’s feedback time, chiiiiildren!

housekeeping

 

I’ve published twenty-odd posts and have apparently picked up enough steam to receive a few spam comments, much to my delight and amusement. Now, I’d like to hear from all of you! What should I write about/post more of on this blog? I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, of course, but I feel like I could use some direction at this point. Also, who doesn’t love to share their opinion on the Intarwebz? I’ve enabled custom answers for this poll as well, and you can always leave comments with suggestions.

I’d like to do a few more vlogs, but I feel like I’m super-awkward on camera and only have the webcam that came with the laptop; therefore, whatever I produce isn’t likely to be very high-quality, and I want to provide you guys with high-quality stuff whenever possible.

I’m not opposed to writing a few fluffy posts here and there to lighten the mood, or even do a picspam every once in a while, because I know the content here can get pretty dark/dreary. On the other hand, I don’t want to stray too far from the original intent of this blog–to share what it’s like to live with major depressive disorder and PTSD, as well as what the therapy process has been like for me so far. I’ll probably also throw up a post with some stats about MDD and PTSD sometime in the very near future, because mental illness is a lot more common than people think. I believe that putting myself out there to add another “face” to the illness is important for diminishing the stigma, but hard facts are also helpful when framing mental illness in a larger context.

But instead of rambling at you about my future plans, let’s get on with the poll!

PTSD, part I.

ptsd, self-harm, stigma

I was looking up some signs of unresolved trauma (mostly relating to dissociation) and came across this awesome list. The ones that apply to me are in bold (and there are way more than I thought).

1. Addictive behaviors – excessively turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling as a way to push difficult emotions and upsetting trauma content further away.

2. An inability to tolerate conflicts with others – having a fear of conflict, running from conflict, avoiding conflict, maintaining skewed perceptions of conflict

3. An inability to tolerate intense feelings, preferring to avoid feeling by any number of ways

4. An innate belief that they are bad, worthless, without value or importance

5. Black and white thinking, all or nothing thinking, even if this approach ends up harming themselves

6. Chronic and repeated suicidal thoughts and feelings

7. Disorganized attachment patterns – having a variety of short but intense relationships, refusing to have any relationships, dysfunctional relationships, frequent love/hate relationships

8. Dissociation, spacing out, losing time, missing time, feeling like you are two completely different people (or more than two) *

9. Eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia, obesity, etc

10. Excessive sense of self-blame – taking on inappropriate responsibility as if everything is their fault, making excessive apologies

11. Inappropriate attachments to mother figures or father figures, even with dysfunctional or unhealthy people

12. Intense anxiety and repeated panic attacks

13. Intrusive thoughts, upsetting visual images, flashbacks, body memories / unexplained body pain, or distressing nightmares

14. Ongoing, chronic depression

15. Repeatedly acting from a victim role in current day relationships

16. Repeatedly taking on the rescuer role, even when inappropriate to do so

17. Self-harm, self-mutilation, self-injury, self-destruction

18. Suicidal actions and behaviors, failed attempts to suicide

19. Taking the perpetrator role / angry aggressor in relationships

20. Unexplained but intense fears of people, places, things

* My most frequent dissociative symptoms are derealization and depersonalization.

Depersonalization is characterized by a feeling of detachment or estrangement from one’s self.  During an episode of depersonalization, the sense of ‘self’ is disturbed.  There is an overall feeling of estrangement and detachment from the self.  …Depersonalization can be very distressing because it seems like one is losing their grip on reality, losing control, or ‘going insane.'”

Derealization – During the experience of derealization, the perception of reality feels distorted and there is a sense of being detached from the outside world.  It can feel like living in a dream.”

(Source)

In the next post on PTSD, I’ll get into some of the messier stuff–mainly, how I ended up with PTSD and how it affects my life. It’s something that is going to require a lot of effort on my part because (as anyone who knows me well can tell you) I don’t really like to talk about it. Joke about it? God, yes, I’ll do that all day long. I’m also able to write about it, to some extent–just the facts, ma’am. But really getting into the heart of it is something I still find incredibly difficult and try to avoid as much as possible.

Learning to create rather than destroy.

ptsd, self-harm, stigma, suicidal ideation, Uncategorized

I cut for the first time in early January of this year. It happened almost as an accident, and I immediately told on myself (to my husband), vowing never to do it again. Three months later, I’ve done it countless times despite promises to myself and D. that I wouldn’t.

The last time I hurt myself was Tuesday night, two days ago. I want that to be the last time forever and when I was trying to think of alternatives, I looked at the tattoo on my wrist (done shortly after the New Year as a promise that when I die, it’s not going to be by my own hand, and an acknowledgment of my struggle with suicidal thoughts and depression). The answer was so simple…I’d been thinking about eventually getting a large thigh piece in a few years as an apology to myself and my body for the hell I’ve put it through, not just through cutting but through other self-medicating, self-destructive habits.

I can’t, for the life of me, remember what triggered me earlier, but I do know that instead of cutting, I decided to draw a big, colorful design on my thigh, which is where I always self-injure. It actually worked–the urge went away and now I have something cheerful to look at when I get low. When it washes away, I’ll create a new one. I swear I’ll keep doing it until I conquer the urge to hurt myself when I feel sad, lonely, frightened, ashamed, or angry fades away for the last time.

DSCF8438 DSCF8436